How Long Does Knee Replacement Surgery Take (Time To Perform)

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Wanting to learn more about how long knee replacement surgery takes to perform? I’ll share my surgery time when I had TKR.

My actual knee replacement surgery took approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes to perform. This included falling asleep just before surgery and when I woke up in the recovery room.

However, the process for TKR Surgery actually begins the night before your surgery. After dinner you are no longer able to eat or drink liquids.

You also have been given a bathing kit with directions. The night before you go to bed, you are instructed to thoroughly wash your body with the soap and washcloths that the hospital provide.

The next morning you are instructed to bathe again exactly like the night before. Then, you are off to the hospital.

If everything goes well, expect to be home the next day. Below I’ll share a few more details of my experience.

Time Checking Into The Hospital And Pre-op

The week before my TKR I had a pre-operation visit at the hospital. I was able to listen to a nurse describing the procedure and then ask questions so that by the day of my surgery, I had a good understanding of what was going to take place.

The process went just as I was told.

My surgery was scheduled for 10:00 am. I was asked to check in to the hospital by 8:00 am. After bathing with the hospital kit the morning of my surgery, I was off to the hospital at 7:30 am.

I arrived a few minutes before 8:00 am and checked in to the front desk. I read the local newspaper for about 10 minutes before the pre-op nurse came to the waiting room, greeted my wife and I and then she escorted us to the pre-op room shortly after 8:00 am (read my article about what to wear after knee replacement).

The same RN that did my pre-operation visit was in the pre-op and she quickly reviewed what was going to happen before, during and after my surgery.

I undressed and was helped in to a hospital gown. The nurse asked me a familiar round of questions concerning when I had last eaten and drank, what medications I had recently taken and which knee the surgery would be on.

After the questions the nurse took my vitals. Next she shaved the area around my knee, preparing it for surgery.

The nurse told me that she would be hooking me up with an IV port and that the Anesthesiologist would soon visit and explain my anesthesia options.

She told me that my surgeon was in the operating room and that he would also visit me before I was moved to the operating room.

The surgeon came in first. He wrote his initials on the knee to be replaced and then explained what the 6 members of the surgical team would be doing.

He introduced the Radiologist and then told me the Anesthesiologist would be in shortly. After meeting with the Anesthesiologist, I chose to have a spinal block.

He gave me a shot to sedate me in the pre-op room and said he would administer the spinal block in the operating room.

My surgery was on time and I was wheeled in to the operating room at 10:00 am.

I was rolled into the operating room and was moved from my pre-op bed to the operating room table. I was beginning to feel a bit groggy but I recognized and conversed with the surgical team.

The anesthesiologist administered the spinal block and the next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room at 12:45 pm.

The Recovery Room

I woke up and was greeted by the recovery room nurse. He encouraged me to drink a lot of water. He took my vitals and continually asked me about my pain level on a 1 to 10 scale.

At this time I began to feel a slight tingling in my toes as I was regaining the feeling in my lower body. The radiologist took some X-rays and I wandered in and out of sleep.

At 2:00 pm I was transferred in to my hospital room, just four hours after the surgery began.

My Time In The Hospital

A great medical team took over my care once I reached my room. I was advised that the surgery went well and if there were no complications, I would be going home in less than 24 hours.

At 4:00 pm the hospital physical therapist came in to my room and had me up and out of bed doing some easy range of motion exercises. I was allowed to walk to the bathroom during this time with my hospital provided walker.

The physical therapist told me she would be back in the morning. At that time, she would give me some simple walking and stair climbing tests.

If I could complete the tasks, I would be going home around noon, the day after surgery.

I did my best to follow my care team’s suggestions. They wanted me to drink a lot of fluid, eat as much as I could and do simple exercises in my bed to enhance my circulation.

I slept on and off during the night. My surgeon arrived early in the morning and removed my drain tube. He examined me, told me the surgery went well and that he expected that I would be going home shortly.

After breakfast, the physical therapist arrived and had me walk and go up and down a few stairs. I was able to complete all of the tasks and she told me I was ready to go home.

I called home for a ride, ate lunch and was on my way home at 12:15 pm.

>> read about my recovery 2 weeks after knee replacement


As I have mentioned in earlier articles I had two previous knee surgeries when I was in my twenties. I stayed in the hospital two nights after those surgeries and was in a soft cast for 6 weeks after each surgery.

I laid around a lot “recovering” and had no physical therapy in the hospital.

Needless to say, I was astonished at the short time that I spent in the hospital during my TKR. Each medical team was impressive and efficient. First, the pre-op team, second, the surgical team, third, my care team (recovery room and hospital room) and finally the hospital physical therapist.

They all knew their jobs and they were very professional.

Barring complications you should expect to spend one night in the hospital after your TKR. You will not only receive good care but you will be expected to do your part to show the staff that you are ready to go home.

Once home, that is where your real work will begin.